Sometimes, life is hard.
What makes it hard is our thoughts and our circumstances.
We don’t get the job. We don’t make the money. We don’t reach the goal. Relationships end. Illnesses happen.
It’s not all easy.
And that’s okay.
Nothing has gone wrong. This is what makes it the human experience. This is what makes the good times good. The amazing memories so sweet.
Accepting this makes it easier. No matter where you go, you’ll have problems.
This is great news.
It means you can go all in, pursue your dreams, and take risks.
Problems will be in your life whether you keep repeating your past or whether you go after your dreams. You might as well.
It will be hard. There will be problems.
And that’s okay.
That’s what makes it worth it because you’ll grow in ways you haven’t imagined or expected.
That’s where the magic happens.
I’m sharing exactly what I mean in this episode.
Here are more of my favorite resources for when life is hard and solving problems:
- It’s Supposed To Be Hard (blog post)
- What To Do About Negative Emotions (blog post)
- How To Process Negative Emotions (YouTube video)
- Processing Negative Emotions (podcast)
- Self Doubt Course (free training)
- Grow You (coaching)
Full When It’s Hard And Problems Are Forever Episode Transcript
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.
Hey, welcome to the show. I’m so happy you’re here today. We are going to talk about something super fun that’s called, it’s supposed to be hard and you’re always going to have problems. Your problems are forever. Yes, I am serious. That’s what we’re going to talk about. I love the Tony Robbins quote. Your biggest problem is you think you shouldn’t have them, so let me just say that I love setting goals.
If you don’t already know that. Yes, it’s true. I set goals every year. I set longer goals than that. You know, this past year I’ve quit my job. I started running my business full time. I had this really great year where I have tripled my income. I’ve moved to Chicago, got certified as a life coach. You know, not to mention I’ve built this amazing community that I am just obsessed with and that includes you.
So life is so good and I’ve really, really enjoyed setting and accomplishing these goals specifically like the last year. It’s been like amazing, but I still have problems and I still have like lots of problems and things are still really, really hard. And guess what? I’m always gonna have problems. And this is the beauty of the life. There is no place where you arrive, where you’re problem free.
And I think this is just great news and I’m just so excited to share this with you because I want you to know that your problems are forever. And the sooner that you embrace this, the sooner that you can get out of this like someday trap where you think that by achieving some goal or getting some thing over there, you’re going to be happier. I see this all the time and it never works. It’s like, okay, well if I could just make more money or if I could just have that relationship or have just have kids or whatever it is.
You think that like by getting the thing that you want, you are going to change how you feel. Like things are going to be better, but your thoughts create your feelings. So however you’ve programmed your mind to think is how you’re gonna feel. So if you want to feel different, if you want more happiness or more abundance or more love in your life, you have to reprogram your brain.
You have to think new thoughts, nothing outside of you has to change. And this is just really good to know. That’s great news, but it means that you’re always going to still have problems no matter where you are. Things are still going to be hard no matter what you are doing. And I love this because it means that you can just go for it and go for your goals knowing that there’s going to be problems, whether you do or don’t go for it.
It’s like I always think, okay, well I’m going to have problems if I do nothing. So I might as well like go for it and set the big goal and have the problems over there because it’s fun to set goals and I want to accomplish this goal. So if I’m going to have problems either way I might as well do it.
And I want you to consider it that life without problems like wouldn’t be life as we know it. No, I don’t want to get to like Metta but there have always been problems. Okay. So there’s the contrast of the world. There’s the good and the bad. It’s how we like identify, you know, being happy and good things happening. It’s because we know that what it looks like to have problems and have bad things happen. So if everything was just like good all the time, like would there even be bad?
Like would there be good, right? Like no, it would just be even like you wouldn’t know good if there was no bad. So it’s a good thing that we have this contrast and like the sooner you recognize this and embrace it, the better off you’ll be because you won’t be like fighting with reality.
I love the Byron Katie quote that says, when you argue with reality you lose but only 100% of the time. So you know, you can think that things are always supposed to be good. But when you do that and then bad things happen, you are arguing with reality. Okay. And you lose, right? Cause you’re like thinking that something’s gone wrong when nothing has gone wrong, like a bad things are supposed to happen and problems are forever and that’s okay. Like how do we know? Because they’ve always happened this way and they always will.
Accepting this will make your life better. You will still experience pain, but you won’t experience the added suffering that you’re causing yourself. What’s really helpful is that if you notice yourself experiencing a problem, that you just recognize the emotion that you’re feeling and name it. So if you’re angry, just name the anger and notice it in your body as like a vibration in your body instead of what we normally tend to do, which is a resist, react or avoid.
So we’ll resist the emotion, we’ll react to it or will avoid it. So when you think of an angry person like yelling, they’re not really experiencing anger, they’re reacting to it. So anger just, you can feel it in your body. Kind of like a that vibration. That’s how all emotions are. When you act out on it or when you avoid it or resist it.
That is when you’re not experiencing the emotion and kind of the key to getting whatever it is you want in life is to experience that negative emotion instead of reacting, resisting, or avoiding it. Another way that we will try to ignore our problems is to escape them through over eating, over drinking, overspending, overworking, over Netflixing basically over fill in the blank. Whatever it is for you, you’ll know that you’re doing this if you are trying to get some like external thing to solve your problem.
Here’s a fun fact. So the problem that you were obsessing over is causing negative emotion and that is it. The worst thing that can happen is the negative emotion that you will experience. So remember that circumstances are neutral. Think of someone dying, right? Someone you love dying is going to affect you very differently than it’s going to affect me if I’m assuming I don’t know that person, right?
And what’s the difference, but thoughts that we have about it. So those thoughts create the feelings, feelings create the actions and actions create your results. The feelings are what we try to avoid. So if you have this problem and you might be trying to avoid feeling the negative emotion, and what I want to offer you is that if you practice experiencing the negative emotion and feeling it and knowing that the worst that can happen from it, it’s just the vibration in your body, you will lessen the magnitude of the problem itself.
You will stop, you know, avoiding taking action because you’re afraid of this problem happening. You have to kind of reframe your problems and stop thinking that you know the fact that you have problems, you know means something’s gone wrong. Right? I love again, the Tony Robbins, your biggest problem is that you think you shouldn’t have them.
So the next time you have a problem, it’s, it’s reframing it like, okay, this is just part of the process. This is, you know, a problem I’m facing and nothing has gone wrong. If you’re experiencing negative emotion with it, you practice experiencing it. You don’t avoid, resist or react to it and you let it pass and you know this from being on this planet long enough that the problem passes and you go back into the positive emotion and you get through the problem just like every other time in your life.
When I first learned that there’s no place where I’ll arrive, where I’m problem free. It gave me so much freedom to go after my goals. It’s like, okay well I am going to have problems if I stay in my job and I’m also going to have problems if I quit my job and do my business full time.
So which one do I want to do? Knowing that it’s like there is no option where you choose it and like you’re just not going to have problems. And the same goes for people who are like working towards something, right? There’ll be like in school and be like, Oh well when I finish, you know, med school or when I finished nursing school and I just get that job.
Like mentally you think that like things are going to be just like so much better. Right. And what happens is you just traded one set of problems for another set of problems. I over heard married people say this. It’s like when you’re single, you have one set of problems and then you get married and you traded those problems in for, your married set of problems, right? So it’s just like you’re evolving and you’re pursuing your goals and you’re always going to have problems.
And I think there is such freedom and knowing that and embracing that, the same is true when you think about something being hard, whether it’s the day, whether it’s the week or the month, or the year or your life. I just want you to consider that life isn’t supposed to be easy and problem free. So I don’t know anyone who says like, Oh my life is super easy. It’s always been super easy and I don’t have any problems.
So I really want to offer you that hard might not be bad. And what if you reframed hard to be good? So again, without no hard, there is no easy, right? Where we get into trouble is making hard means something negative. So it’s like saying, you know, this is so hard. I’m not cut out for it and I should just quit. So you make it mean that you’re not going to be able to do it.
Right. So if someone says I want to start a business and they’re like, Oh, it’s so hard. Like I just, I don’t think I’m cut out for this. Right. It’s, it being hard. You’re making it mean something like what if it’s just supposed to be hard, right? Like what if you can just do hard things. Like I love thinking that like whatever it is I want to do is hard, but that like I can do hard things.
Notice that in some areas of your life this might be easier to do than others. So if you are used to, um, kind of being competitive or rising to the challenge, you might find that you naturally think like, Oh, this is hard and I can do hard things and nothing’s gone wrong. But then like in another area of your life, you might not do that. And this is really neat because if you do find that you can compare the two areas and see the different results you have in your life.
When you approach something that is a challenge with the mindset that like you can do hard things and you, you know work through those obstacles and you take massive action, you will get your results. If you make hard mean that you’re not cut out for it, you will procrastinate, you will quit, you will indulge in I don’t know how and you will not get the result. So I want you to become aware of if you’re doing this in your life and it can be as simple as just kind of saying like I had a hard day. Right.
You know, how are you saying that? Are you saying it in a kind of self pitying way or are you saying it in like a motivating I had a hard day but I crushed it and I can do hard things now. I have been on both sides of the table.
I totally get it. I will say like I just had a hard day and I’m indulging in self pity and I have to catch myself because it’s not useful. You’re basically saying like you’re weak and you want people to feel sorry for you and that will never get you the result you want. Notice it. Remember that nothing has meaning until you give it meaning. So you might reframe that and be like, okay, well this, this and this happened today.
I wasn’t my best self and now I’m tired. I’m going to go to bed early instead of kind of, Oh my gosh, I just had a hard day. Now I’m going to go drink wine and watch Netflix all night. So just notice your patterns of behavior. You might do something the total opposite and say, okay, well this, this and this happened. It wasn’t the result I wanted, but I did my best.
And how can I do it differently in the future? It’s going to depend on your habits and what you’re used to in terms of like evaluating, um, your days and your life and kind of how you’ve trained yourself to, um, move through hard situations. And I want to offer you that you don’t ever have to make something being hard mean anything about your ability to get that thing.
So if you say like starting a business is so hard or making money online is so hard, I don’t want you to make that mean that you can’t have it. Like yes, it might be hard for you or you might have failed a few times and it’s not working out the way you thought. But that doesn’t mean anything about your ability to get the result you want.
So don’t make it mean something more like, so what that is hard. Maybe it’s supposed to be hard. And you know, one thing that I really love to do is like when something goes like really wrong and it’s like a big problem where it’s really hard, I’m always like, Ooh, this is gonna make for a really good story. That’s what I always do.
It really, really helps, especially if you’re doing anything online, it’s kind of all about the story, right? So I’m like, Oh, this is going to be a good part of the story. Honestly, I thought that when I failed the CFP exam the first time I took it, so I passed the Ohio bar exam the first time I took it. And then when I took the certified financial planner exam, the first time I failed, I just failed it. I don’t know, I didn’t study enough. And um, I was working full time and blogging.
So adding in studying was, um, was a challenge and I just didn’t pass. And I remember thinking like, Oh my gosh, this is going to be such a good part of my story because everyone thinks that um, as a high achiever, things come easy to me and they really don’t like at all. Like nothing comes easy to me. It’s really funny. I’m always like, um, comparing myself to my brother who is naturally really smart and really good test taker and he is an oculoplastic surgeon and I just have worked so hard to get like to where I am.
And I just kind of laugh because I’m constantly working through failures and not making them mean anything. So with my CFP exam, I failed it and I remember thinking, well at least this will be a good story and I can share with the world that things are not coming easy to me.
So if you’re going through something hard, think about how you can make it a positive part of your story and how much room there will be for growth. One of the best things that I think have come from me being a lawyer is my threshold for, uh, doing hard things. Let’s just call it that.
I was gonna say my threshold for pain, but let’s just say my threshold for doing hard things. So I went to law school and I went into it thinking like, this is going to be super hard, but you know what? Like, I’m going to bust my butt and I’m going to give it my all and I am going to rock it out. And I did. And I think that, you know, going through that experience where you’re getting called on my best Socratic method where you know, professors call on you and question you in front of everyone at random really helped me be able to perform under pressure in a way that I hadn’t before.
So now my threshold for work and my ability to just sit down at a desk for 12 or 15 hours and grind it out is so high. It’s like something so valuable that I see other people like after a few hours they’re like, Oh I gotta get up and like move around or work out. I’m like, dude, you know like if you’re in hustle mode, you’re in hustle mode. You got to set your priorities and you know, if you are in a place where you’ve already achieved your financial goals and you’re in the mode where you’re working only a couple of days a week and you have all that balance in your life, that’s amazing.
But I work with so many people who are starting their businesses and they want to get to six or seven figures and it’s like that startup mode. And that’s where you need to be able to do hard things and you need to get your mental toughness up so that you don’t make it mean anything about you personally.
Right? Like this is hard. So what? You can do hard things and it’s always, always worth it. And I think that when we see like successful people, we have a tendency to think that they don’t struggle and that they don’t have problems. But that could not be further from the truth. So unsuccessful people will make the failures and the obstacles and the fear means something that makes it so that they should stop.
Whether it’s they’re not good enough or this isn’t gonna work for them, but whatever it is, they’ll make that like negative emotion mean that they should stop doing whatever it is they’re doing. Whereas successful people they won’t do this, they’ll fail, they’ll have obstacles and they’ll just keep going no matter what. They’ll take that massive action. They’ll fall on their face over and over and over again until they get the result.
So just keep that in mind if you’re reaching for some crazy goal or if you’re just in your normal life, not reaching for a goal, whatever it is, if you’re having problems or you’re going through hard things like nothing has gone wrong, but just keep going and know that you can do whatever it is that you want to do.
And of course, like I tried to remember this, it’s so much easier in areas where I’ve practiced this skill, especially business like I don’t make failure mean anything. Like I really did not care that I failed the CFP exam. I remember seeing the word fail when I logged in and thinking like that was so rude. I’m not even kidding. I was like, it should just say do over. I just really didn’t like relate to the word fail. I don’t like make failure mean anything.
I don’t think I fail at anything and it’s kind of like a crazy place to come from. But I have such an abundant mindset for career in business that I really think I can just get whatever it is I want, which has been super fun for building my online business. Right? So zero to six figures was so much mental, you know, mind work. And then of course the tactical, and I assume it’s going to be the same to get from six to seven figures, right? It’s a different ball game.
You’re always growing and evolving, but you have to be willing to go through the obstacles and the emotions and not make it mean that you should stop. Right? So if something came up and whatever it is, my site crashed or whatever, I don’t even know, like I can’t ever make that mean that I shouldn’t be doing this or you know what I mean?
Like people will say, well, I didn’t make this much money. So you know, maybe, maybe it’s not a good idea. Maybe it’s not responsible, that I keep working on this. Like you can make your obstacle mean whatever you want. You can make it mean that it’s just a learning experience and you can’t wait to crush it next time. That’s what I like to do. I think that you just have to make sure you are making it mean something that supports the result that you actually want deep down and it requires you to be so honest with yourself.
Another side effect of this way of thinking is I actually just experienced joy and happiness so much more because I’m not living in the scarcity place of fearing more problems. So when you just accept that there are definitely going to be more problems like no matter what, you give yourself permission to just be super happy and excited and full of joy right now because the problems are coming.
Another hard day is for sure coming, you’re welcome. No, but it’s like, okay, well if they’re for sure coming, if I’m going to have more problems, if I’m going to experience more pain, like I don’t need to experience that ahead of time. I don’t need to add more suffering. I can just be super freaking happy right now and experience all the joy and excitement and you know, if nothing’s going wrong and I’m crushing it and just know that when those things come, I’ll deal with it then.
It’s like I used to come from a place of fear and worry, Oh my God, worry just pretends to be necessary. It’s that Eckhart toll light quote. You don’t need to ever worry. It’s super indulgent. So it doesn’t ever change the result. And when you know this, you kind of stop worrying about your problems and you’re like, Oh yeah, that’s another problem.
That was a tough day. And you kind of laugh at it and it’s, you don’t make it as mean as much. And that is where there’s like such freedom in your day to day and you don’t have to have any of your circumstances change for you to adopt this way of thinking. And I’m telling you, it is a total game changer. Remember that how you feel is an inside job.
So it’s a result of how you think and whether that is patterned thinking that you’ve just continuously got in the habit of doing or if it’s like an intentional new thought, but whatever it is that you’re thinking is causing you to feel a certain way. So if you want more happiness, you can just decide to be happier right now. Like nothing has to change. You could have a lot of problems, a lot of things can go wrong and you can just still be happy.
Isn’t that amazing? Um, I love this cause I think it gives you such freedom in your emotional life and for you to feel however you want to feel instead of sort of giving your power away to someone else or something else or the world, it’s up to you to decide. If you want to be this happy person who is working on a hard goal and has a few problems or you want to be this miserable person whose life is just hard and problem filled, right? We’re all experiencing life with contrast, with the good and the bad.
So how you frame it is totally up to you. When you really learn how to do this thought work, you will learn how to have that like inner peace and contentment and wellbeing despite having ya know, problems despite the bad, despite the contrast, um, compared to where you’re always seeking pleasure externally, which is totally different.
And you know, we will see a lot of people do this where you’re overseeking that pleasure, right? The over Netflixing, the overeating, the overshopping, the overing right to kind of fill you up. And it never works, right? Because happiness and that contentment is an inside job. So I have this process that you can use to kind of identify what you’re going through and see if it’s working for you.
So what I want you to do is if you’re having a problem or a hard day or whatever the issue is, I want you to list out all of the facts and facts are facts. Like I am on an iMac right now. My phone is an iPhone. Like these are facts. My hair is blonde, okay? She was mean to me is not a fact. So just some examples. Write out the facts specifically that no one would argue with that happened. So that’s step one.
The next step is that you write down the thoughts you’re having about the facts. So maybe, um, my boss told me I need to redo this project. Okay, if your boss actually said that, that’s the fact. Now what thought are you having about the fact now maybe your thinking that you know your boss doesn’t trust you and doesn’t think that you’re good enough. Okay, whatever the thought is, it’s something that you are interpreting from the facts. Notice that your thoughts are entirely optional.
Then I want you to name the feeling that your thought is causing. So maybe that thought about your boss is causing you to feel insecure or angry or whatever it is. Name that one word, feeling that you’re feeling in your body. And then I want you to decide if you want to continue to make the facts mean what you’re making them mean and why. It’s so funny I love this.
It’s like decide whatever you want, do whatever you want, but like your reason, like I love that. That’s so powerful. So if you want to make the facts mean that your boss doesn’t like you or whatever it is, that’s fine. But notice that it’s your choice to make it mean that and like your reason because you’re just making up a story in your head, right? Like this is just, you have no idea unless your boss looked at you and said, I don’t like you or whatever it is like that is not going to be a fact.
The fact is your boss asked you redo this project or whatever the thought is what you’re making it mean. If you don’t like what you’re making the facts mean, then consider making them mean something else. So if you’re going to make up a story, you might as well make up one that supports you.
This is hard to do because like especially if you’re new to thought work, we’re so used to making up stories that don’t support us and it can get us into really big trouble and it can add so much more suffering on to what’s just a little bit of pain. The key here is to just become aware of your thoughts and your feelings and to notice that your thoughts cause your feelings. So become the watcher of your own mind.
Become the watcher of your feelings and know that you don’t have to make your thoughts or feelings mean anything. Like it’s entirely up to you. So think about this as you have your problems or obstacles, especially in terms of your goals. If something is hard right now, like what are you making that mean? Are you making it mean something about your ability to succeed and if so, why?
Um, I think it’s, you know, in your best interest to make whatever obstacle or problem you’re having mean something that supports the result you want. So if you didn’t make as much money as you wanted to this year and you know that to you is a problem, what are you making that mean? Are you making it mean something about your ability to double your income next year? Are you making it mean that you’re not cut out for this and you should quit? And why?
Like if you really want to be successful with an online business or whatever it is, then own that and do that and don’t let an obstacle get in your way. Turn that obstacle into a strategy for you know the path that gets you from where you are now to where you want to go. I used to think that I would be happier when I accomplished my goals, but really it was the complete opposite.
When I became happier as a person, when I chose new thoughts that created happiness and abundance and those elevated emotions, I accomplished so much more. That is why I have had my best year ever. I stopped indulging in self pity and kind of that like victimy mindset and stopped indulging in the fear and then I switched to the more abundant emotions and I made sure that I didn’t make any obstacles or failures mean anything about my ability to get what I wanted.
I know that in the future I’m going to have lots more problems and a lot of hard days and that’s okay. There is an inner joy that I have now that will be with me forever because I choose to have that. I’m ready for more growth. Knowing that I’m as happy as I am now as I ever will be.
I want you to know that there is no place that you will arrive without problems, so you might as well get your happy pants on and go for it. Problems and all. I have a free design, your dream life training that you can get Nataliebacon.com/dreamlifetraining. That is all one word. Okay. Make it an amazing week. I will see you next time.
Thank you for listening to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. Subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episodes sent directly to you. To learn more about designing your dream life visit NatalieBacon.com.